Drugs baron jailed after gang supplied cocaine to disgraced Sunderland police officer

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A DRUGS baron whose gang supplied a serving Sunderland police officer with cocaine has been jailed for 14 years.

John Whyte, 47, was part of a cocaine ring which was cracked when police launched an investigation into Detective Sergeant Paul Thompson in 2010.

Thompson, who once worked as an undercover test purchase officer with the drugs squad, was cleared of being a dealer after a trial.

But the 45-year-old, who had been based at the city’s Gill Bridge police station, was fined after being found guilty of three charges of possession of cocaine.

The former officer had admitted buying the class A drug after he developed a habit following the death of his mother.

Jurors at his trial accepted he and his wife had been selling a herbal based Viagra substitute to friends, not cocaine as prosecutors had alleged. After the trial last year, the supply gang members, including Thompson’s brother, were given jail sentences totalling 30 years.

At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday Whyte, of Millwood, Chilton, County Durham, brought the total to 44 years when he was found guilty of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Judge Simon Hickey said Whyte, who was given a 10-year sentence for dealing heroin in 2003, was a “sophisticated and cunning” man who was heavily involved in bulk buying and selling cocaine.

The judge said: “Police came across this business when they started looking at the affairs of a serving police officer, who is transpired had been using cocaine from his own brother, who was a member of the organisation.”

Thompson resigned from the force when the dealing allegations were made against him.

During his career he had received an area command award in relation to a serious sex assault case in Sunderland in 1997.

He also received a certificate for distinguished behaviour after helping a woman and three children from a house fire.

Thompson was fined £1,000 for drug possession and a charge of misconduct in public office him of in relation to using police computers to access details on people he knew.

The disgraced officer was just one of the customers of the Ponteland-based crime gang headed by brothers Stephen and David Wood, who supplied to his brother Brian Thompson.

The officer and the drugs gang were arrested after police raided Stephen Wood’s home and found 4kg of compressed cocaine powder.

Investigations showed the gang had delivered cocaine worth £1million to buyers in the North East over a 14-month period.